State health leaders have identified several clusters of the norovirus, including one new strain of the virus.
The Division of Public Health is warning the public to take precautions to prevent the further spread of the virus that typically increases in the winter months. Statewide, there are nine clusters with an increased number of cases than expected in one area.
The new strain of norovirus is called G11.4 Sydney subtype and was first identified in Australia in 2012. While the new strain is new to the U.S., it is not thought to be more virulent than other strains.
Norovirus causes what is described as unpleasant and severe gastrointestinal illness including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The illness can be more severe in the very young and very old. Dehydration can occur rapidly.
Because there is no medication to treat norovirus, prevention is key. The virus can be difficult to kill with normal cleaning and disinfecting methods.
State health leaders offer the following tips:
Surfaces that have been contaminated with stool or vomit should be cleaned immediately and disinfected with a freshly prepared diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach:10 parts water) or a bleach-based household cleaner. Never use undiluted bleach.
If you are ill with vomiting or diarrhea, you should not go to work, school, or attend daycare.
Healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes and hospitals, may restrict visitation of sick family members or friends for the safety of not only the ill persons, but also the visitors.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others against norovirus since hand sanitizers, alone, are not as effective against the virus as handwashing.